Every once and a while I witness these surreal moments in class. This one stands out as so weird, yet it says a lot.
We were having a class discussion on abortion. Previously, the students had watched two debates on the topic and had read their fair share of pro and con articles. One student, who was usually conservative, was explaining why he was actually pro-choice on abortion. He thought abortion should remain legal and a viable choice for politically and economically pragmatic reasons. His view was that given that abortions happen disproportionately among the poor, progressives, and in urban areas, it should be kept legal so we don’t overburden the welfare state, and so progressives over time have less influence on politics (ie, due to abortion there will be fewer of them around). Well count me out! Obviously bad argument, right? We don’t kill human beings for those reasons. Eugenics and all that. But here’s where the conversation got fun. Objecting to his reasoning only makes sense from a pro-life perspective. Especially for pro-choicers who are pro-choice because of bodily autonomy, they don't exactly have a leg to stand on, but watch what happened next:
One of the most militantly progressive, pro-abortion students I’ve ever had suddenly flew into a rage: “I am furious at you! How dare you! I have friends with disabilities--should they be aborted? Its eugenics! You are so disgusting! Ugh!” Well…yes, but the odd thing is that they were both on the same team regarding abortion. A few moments earlier, this progressive student, along with a bunch of other students in the class, had just finished solemnly arguing that abortion should be legal because if it weren’t, more unwanted kids would end up wallowing in poverty, and that would be bad.
The earlier conservative student was essentially making the same argument using different terms. He took the Shinola shine off it and “said the quiet part out loud,” but its still essentially the same argument. Her position was that abortion should be legal on demand, no matter the reason, because of bodily autonomy. If a woman wanted to have an abortion so that she didn’t overburden the welfare state, that is her choice. We shouldn’t intervene and judge her decision. She didn't say that last part verbatim, but that's where her view leads. Consequently, if we as a society want to keep it legal for politically pragmatic reasons, that’s fine, because what matters is bodily autonomy. That’s the trump card. I’m just connecting the dots here, making the implicit explicit. Given her radical pro-choice position, she didn’t have grounds to be offended. If she wanted to be offended, she should’ve been pro-life.
If it's "my body my choice," well theeennnn.....(shrug). If that's the way she's going to go--and that *was* her argument--then the reason for abortion doesn't matter. It's all shibby. Ya' can't exactly be furious at other people who are pro-choice.
I tried to point that out and show the commonality, but she couldn’t even understand what I was saying, much less disagree with it. Pondering that she was in the same ideological boat as this student she so despised caused her head to spin.
The whole interaction was really weird, but informative. Dissonance on display. I see this a lot--students and people switching back and forth between contraries, depending on the convenience of the situation.
Be on the lookout for this movement, and when you see it, point it out.